Critically Endangered Sumatran Tiger Cubs Have First Health Check


ZSL London Zoo’s trio of tiger cubs have had their visit from veterinarians, who were finally able to confirm the sexes of the stripy babies—two males and a female.

ZSL veterinarian Dr. Ellie Milnes gave each cub a thorough nose-to-tail examination, checking their eyes, teeth, heart, and overall physical health, as well as weighing each cub.

All three were given a clean bill of health, and their information was added to the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS), a database shared with zoos all over the world that helps zookeepers and conservationists compare important information on thousands of endangered species.

Three Sumatran Tiger cubs are held by keepers before being released into the enclosure for display at Taronga Zoo on March 29, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. The three Sumatran Tiger cubs were born in January 2019. Separately, ZSL London Zoo’s trio of tiger cubs have had their visit from the Zoo’s veterinarians, who were finally able to confirm the sexes of the stripy babies—two males and a female.
Getty Images/Mark Kolbe

The check-up took place in the comfort of the cubs’ home, with mum Gaysha waiting outside in the paddock, while their vital statistics were recorded and their important first vaccinations were administered.

Facing a scenario that many parents of youngsters are familiar with, zookeepers have a job and a half to do in keeping the wriggling and hissing cubs still for their first vaccinations. Unlike human babies though, the cubs already have sharp claws and feisty personalities to contend with.

Sumatran Tiger Cubs
One of the three Sumatran Tiger cubs is seen on display at Taronga Zoo on March 29, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. The three Sumatran Tiger cubs were born in January 2019. Separately, the check-up for the cubs at ZSL London Zoo took place in the comfort of the cubs’ home.
Getty Images/Mark Kolbe

Zookeeper Lucy Reed said: “It’s not very often we are “hands-on” with the animals we look after—in fact, most of the time we do the complete opposite—so I was very excited to get to help hold the cubs, it’s a huge privilege.”

“However, I think it’s safe to say the cubs didn’t feel the same way—they’re super strong already, and holding them still for their injections felt like doing a mega workout. It’s a really encouraging sign though, as all the fidgeting and hisses are a completely instinctive behavior and something we want to see them doing,” Reed added.

Sumatran Tiger Cubs
Three Sumatran tiger cubs are seen on display at Taronga Zoo on March 29, 2019, in Sydney, Australia. The three Sumatran Tiger cubs were born in January 2019. Separately, the vital statistics of the cubs at ZSL London Zoo were recorded and their important first vaccinations were administered.
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Weighing in at a respectable 20.5 lbs, 18.1 lbs (the two males, respectively), and 14.7 lbs (the female), the cubs were also fitted with a microchip during the health check which ensures each one can be easily and accurately identified as they grow.

Dr. Ellie Milnes added: “This first health check is really important for the cubs, not only is it a chance for us to really investigate how they’re doing and how well they’re growing, but their first vaccinations help to boost their young immune system and keep them healthy and well”.

“It gives us great pleasure to say we have three healthy—and super strong—cubs in our care.” Now that their sexes are confirmed, the cubs will be named by supporters of the Zoological Society of London’s—the conservation charity which runs London Zoo—global wildlife projects after the charity’s annual fundraising gala safari in the city.

Produced in association with Magazine Features (South Africa).

(Additional reporting provided by ZSL London Zoo)

This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.

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